German circus uses holograms instead of real animals

  • Photo: (c) Circus Roncalli

    A German travelling circus has replaced real animals with 3D holograms in its shows, in a stance to stop wildlife abuse.

    Circus Roncalli was in founded in 1976. It uses 11 high-tech projectors to fill an arena measuring 32 metres (105 feet) wide and five metres (16 feet) deep with a 360° view with holographic animals, which are highly realistic and clear from all angles. The shows currently involve projections of elephants, horses and goldfish.

    Its founders, Bernhard Paul and André Heller used real-life animals up until 2017 according to professional circus network Circus Talk. However since the nineties, the circus has slowly been phasing animals out from its shows, as it says its main focus has always been on clowns, acrobats and poetic acts anyway.

    The idea originated when co-founder Paul watched Justin Timberlake perform alongside a hologram of deceased performer Prince at the NFL Super Bowl half-time show in 2018. He then wanted to implement the same tech within his circus. He said that “when you feel that the audience does not approve of something then you have to change it. As a circus or circus director you have to listen to the audience but also to your heart and to trust you own gut.”

    Circuses have long been criticised for starving and beating their live animal performers. Therefore Circus Roncalli’s actions have been praised worldwide. Paul added that after his initial announcement to perform animal-free, the circus received over 20,000 letters and e-mails from all over the world, with 95% positive feedback. He said that videos of the circus went viral across social media in more than 40 countries.

    The president of the Animal Defenders International organisation, Jan Creamer noted that “this is the future of circus — a performance everyone can enjoy and for which intelligent, sentient beings are not used and depicted as objects of entertainment”.

    (c) Circus Roncalli 

    Paul personally invested $500k to achieve these visual wonders, and it took a team of 15 designers and software engineers to implement them. According to Lithuanian social site Bored Panda, Circus Roncalli’s agency partnered with companies Bluebox and Optoma to deliver the effects.

    Bluebox’s Birger Wunderlich said: “We have been using Optoma projectors for 6 years and have consistently had a very positive experience in price, performance, and reliability. We needed a high contrast projector with great colors for the 3D effect and the ZU850’s 2,000,000:1 contrast is perfect for this project.”

    Legislation banning travelling circuses from using wild animals in their performances is set to take effect in the UK in 2020.

    Perhaps these circuses will follow Paul’s pursuit in pioneering a holographic future for performances worldwide.


    (c) Circus Roncalli on YouTube 

    Sources: Educate Inspire Change, All that's interesting

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    Niamh is a Sync NI writer with a previous background of working in FinTech and financial crime. She has a special interest in sports and emerging technologies. To connect with Niamh, feel free to send her an email or connect on Twitter.

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